Microsoft will craft XP patches after April '14, but not for you
The company could keep shipping updates, even play the pay-to-patch card
Computerworld - Just because Microsoft doesn't plan on giving Windows XP patches to the public after April 8, 2014, doesn't mean it's going to stop making those patches.
In fact, Microsoft will be creating security updates for Windows XP for months -- years, even -- after it halts their delivery to the general public.
Those patches will come from a program called "Custom Support," an after-retirement contract designed for very large customers who have not, for whatever reason, moved on from an older OS.
As part of Custom Support -- which according to analysts, costs about $200 per PC for the first year and more each succeeding year -- participants receive patches for vulnerabilities rated "critical" by Microsoft. Bugs ranked as "important," the next step down in Microsoft's four-level threat scoring system, are not automatically patched. Instead, Custom Support contract holders must pay extra for those. Flaws pegged as "moderate" or "low" are not patched at all.
"Legacy products or out-of-support service packs covered under Custom Support will continue to receive security hotfixes for vulnerabilities labeled as 'Critical' by the MSRC [Microsoft Security Response Center]," Microsoft said in a Custom Support data sheet. "Customers with Custom Support that need security patches defined as 'Important' by MSRC can purchase these for an additional fee.
"These security hotfixes will be issued through a secure process that makes the information available only to customers with Custom Support," the data sheet promised.
Because Microsoft sells Custom Support agreements, it's obligated to come up with patches for critical and important vulnerabilities. And it may be required to do so for years: The company sells Custom Support for up to three years after it retires an operating system.
Custom Support and the XP security updates that result have been one reason why some experts have held out hope that Microsoft will backtrack from retiring XP next April. Their reasoning is straight-forward: Microsoft will have patches available -- its engineers won't have to do any more work than they already committed to doing -- so handing them out to all would be a simple matter.
Or not. Most experts have said that the chance Microsoft will prolong Windows XP's life run between slim and none. And giving away patches to everyone risks a revolt by those big customers who have paid millions for Custom Support.
But Microsoft does have options. Computerworld sees six.
Continue patching for free
If Windows XP remains a major presence, as it appears likely, with projections as high as 33.5% of all personal computers at the end of April 2014, Microsoft could decide to continue patching the aged OS with free fixes for critical vulnerabilities, maybe even those rated important.
Windows XP lives
- Perspective: Microsoft risks security reputation ruin by retiring XP
- Update: Microsoft reacts to XP upgrade critics with free file transfer tool
- No special treatment for China on XP, patches end April 8 in the PRC, too
- Microsoft misjudges customer loyalty with kill-XP plea
- Users mock Microsoft for asking their help on XP-to-Windows 8.1 upgrades
- Backlash slaps Microsoft's 'help-a-friend-dump-XP' plea
- Perspective: Microsoft asks for volunteers to join its kill-XP army
- Users postpone ditch-XP decision as Windows 8 runs to stay in place
- Microsoft retains weapon to silently scrub XP
- Microsoft will furnish malware assassin to XP users until mid-2015
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Windows White Papers | Webcasts